Central Texas veterans had a special Valentine's Day visitor.
"We held a conversation, she showed real concern, she wasn't patronizing, she didn't seem phony. So, it was important because most of the old guys really don't like people like that, and she was really nice," veteran Tony Almeida said.
"Every single veteran has a story, and I've learned that this year is not about me. As much as it may look like it from an outward appearance, it's not about me, and I've really learned what having a servant heart means," Miss Texas 2016 Caroline Carothers said.
Tony Almeida has been hospitalized at the V.A. in Temple for almost three months.
He woke up Valentine's Day morning unaware just how special a day it was going to be.... He would meet Miss Texas and get to go home to spend Valentine's Day with his wife.
"Tonight, we can actually in our recliners next to each other and just watch TV, eat a light dinner, and just do what we normally do because our life hasn't been normal the last three months," Almeida added.
Mr. Almeida said he didn't expect to meet Miss Texas more less have an actual conversation with her. But, Miss Texas is no stranger to veterans having a father and grandfather who served in the Air Force for many years.
"I don't think that people on a daily basis realize that there are people every single day fighting for us to live a daily life, and whenever you take the time to go and volunteer at the V-A or any type of military function, that's when it hits home," Carothers added.
Miss Texas said it was an honor to spend her Valentine's Day with those who have given so much to our country.
"I've heard about it before, and I've known about the V-A, but I have never actually been able to dive into it as much as I have today. And so being able just to be a part of that love and that joy and spreading those smiles today, is just a fraction of what they get on a daily basis, and that really touches my heart," Carothers said.
Miss Texas 2016 Caroline Carothers honored and visited with Central Texas veterans on Feb. 14.
Miss Texas joined the leadership from the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS), community leaders, soldiers from Fort Hood, Veteran organizations and area students.
Her visit was part of VA’s National Salute to Veteran Patients.
The public was welcomed to participate in either the Waco’s Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center event starting at 10 a.m. or Temple’s Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center event starting at 1 p.m.
"On February 14, I welcome the public to join us for the National Salute to Veterans to say thank you to our nation’s heroes,” CTVHCS Interim Director Bryan W. Sisk said. “Valentine’s Day is a perfect time for us to recognize our Veterans as the heart of America’s freedom. It’s a time to let them know we have not forgotten them or their sacrifices.”
Sisk said groups distributed thousands of Valentines made by school children and organizations, along with refreshments, red heart-shaped balloons and good cheer to Veterans at CTVHCS.
The goal of this event was to increase Central Texans' awareness of VA’s important role in providing medical care to our nation’s veterans and encourage Americans to visit hospitalized veterans and become volunteers.
Waco: Activities begin at 10 a.m. in Stracke Auditorium (Building 6) at the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4800 Memorial Drive, in Waco.
Temple: Activities begin at 1 p.m. inside the main Teague Hospital entrance lobby (Building 204 entry adjacent to Valet parking) at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center, 1901 Veterans Memorial Drive, in Temple.
The annual VA National Salute program began in 1978 when VA took over sponsorship of a program started in 1974 by the humanitarian organization, No Greater Love, Inc.
VA Voluntary Service staff plan and execute local events and activities at VA medical facilities across the nation. National Salute is observed annually during the week of Valentine's Day, a day of caring and sharing which underscores the Salute's expression of honor and appreciation to inpatient and outpatient veterans.
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